07-21-18 Patricia Sargeant

Friday, January 27, 2017

‘As Told To’ Project Prompts Solo Efforts

By Linda Lovely

The idea of writing a book was an occasional, fleeting thought.  Sometimes I figured out a mystery before reaching the half-way point in a book and thought I could do better.  Other times I’d roll my eyes at the actions of a wimpy or TSTL—too stupid to live—heroine and think MY heroine would be much braver and smarter.

But these were random thoughts. I was busy trying to make a living. We had just moved to the South Carolina coast for my husband’s job, and I’d recently sold my interest in a partnership, which required me to honor a non-compete clause. That meant I needed new clients.

I've always been a writer. But writing a book? It took an
expensive lesson for me to decide, "Yes, I can."
One happened to be a fast-growing ad agency that hired me as a freelancer. I really liked one of the agency principals, a talented writer and a real hoot. We’ll call him Ed. One day Ed told me about an “opportunity.” Someone he’d met in a bar wanted to contract with a writer to pen an “as told to” expose. Ed was in the middle of writing a TV pilot and had no time to see if it was a worthwhile project. He suggested I check it out. What could it hurt?

The contact turned out to be a duo—two disinherited members of a famous, wealthy family. They wanted to make some money by revealing juicy tales about their relatives and, not incidentally, extract some revenge on people they felt had wronged them. 

Their tales of birthday parties at 21, private jets, exclusive schools, fabulous estates, and, okay, drugs and kinky sex, were so far from my life experiences that I was fascinated. We signed a contract. It gave me a fair share of the royalties once the book was published, and they’d pay all my expenses for travel and research, but no advance. What did I have to lose?

I should have asked a lawyer. I didn’t. Bottom line? I spent months doing research. I traveled with them to visit former haunts. I read related books. I outlined the entire book, wrote perhaps a third of the book as well as a proposal. We secured a well-known, New York literary agent to represent us.

The agent let the cat out of the bag. The ensuing negotiations—I wasn’t included—led to a multi-million dollar family arrangement, essentially a bribe to not publish the book or reveal any of its contents. A provision in my contract said I could not disclose my clients' identities or use any of my research without their permission. If I did, I’d be sued.

So, I wound up spending hundreds of hours on a project that cost me money. Do I regret it? Not one bit. I learned I could, indeed, write a book. I also had an opportunity to hear first-hand tales about famous people and lifestyles beyond anything I could imagine. Plenty of material for fictional plots and characters. I also decided that what I really wanted to do was write fiction. And I vowed I would be the only one to decide if a book should be published.

Of course, I didn’t immediately sit down and start writing a novel. I took fiction writing courses and continued to work hard for paying clients to earn a living. Now I’m happily at a place where I can write what I want—mysteries and suspense coupled with laughter and love. I hope you’ll check out my new humorous Brie Hooker Mystery series when it debuts this October.


Patricia Gligor said...

Your story is a great example of "Everything happens for a reason." Like you, it took me years to write my first novel. I wrote all the time, mostly short stories, but the idea of writing a novel intimidated me. Then, I met Mary Higgins Clark at one of her book signings and she encouraged me to "write that novel." My fifth Malone mystery will be published soon. :)

Linda Lovely said...

Patricia, a great story. Sometimes all it take is either a little encouragement or a boot in the behind to do what we really want to do. Congrats on your fifth Malone mystery!

Debra H. Goldstein said...

Interesting way to get started on a writing career. And look how far you've come. Books in your past and Congrats on the new book deal.

Linda Lovely said...

Thanks, Debra. When I started college, I wanted to be a lawyer like you. Life takes unexpected turns. Often those hairpins end up steering us to a perfect destination.

Barb said...

I think Destiny has quite a sense of humour.

Sarah Raplee said...

Wow! I didn't see this story coming! It's so interesting to learn how you ended up writing your wonderful mysteries. I'm looking forward to the new series!

Marlene Ezell said...

Great blog. It is nice to get to know more about you, Linda.

Judith Ashley said...

Oh my, Linda! Sometimes The Universe gives us the opportunity to learn a life's lesson. So glad you did learn and go forth to write. Congratulations on your new Brie Hooker Mystery series!!!